The Orange County Board of Commissioners leaned toward a little mystery in choosing a new slogan for the county’s welcome sign on I-40, just west of the Durham County line.
The slogan “Around the corner, ahead of the curve” beat nearly 900 other suggestions submitted in December and January. The list was narrowed to 11 after officials weeded out others, including duplicate, vulgar and Chapel Hill-centric slogans.
“We were fearful of maybe being a little egotistical and saying we’re so great,” said Laurie Paolicelli, the county’s director of community relations and tourism. “We were fearful of maybe being a little bit vague, maybe even esoteric, with the average motorist who sees the sign for one-tenth of one second really (not knowing) what we were talking about.”
The new slogan was not the first choice of over 2,000 people polled.
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It got 322 votes, compared with 417 for the top vote-getter, “Visit today, stay for life.”
But the commissioners agreed the runner-up was a favorite. All the suggestions are pretty generic, Commissioner Mark Dorosin said, but the top vote-getter is poorly worded with an unintended meaning.
“For life also has an incarceration quality,” Dorosin said. “I have some problems with that. It’s like you can never leave. It’s like ‘The Village’ (from the 1960s TV series ‘The Prisoner’).”
The existing sign, posted at mile marker 269, has told visitors for years “You’ll be a Fan for Life.”
The Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau, upon learning that the N.C. Department of Transportation was going to replace the damaged sign, worked with the WCHL and WHUP radio stations to sponsor the contest.
The state will pay to replace the sign.
Nearly 900 slogans were submitted to contest sponsors earlier this year for the county’s welcome sign on Interstate 40. The county commissioners choose from among 11 finalists ranked by online voters:
▪ Visit today, stay for life – 417 votes
▪ Around the corner, ahead of the curve – 322 votes
▪ Where great minds think differently – 276 votes
▪ Where education meets opportunity – 202 votes
▪ Think free and dream big – 170 votes
▪ One of life's better choices – 149 votes
▪ We've got a corner of the Triangle – 128 votes
▪ Proudly progressive – 126 votes
▪ Creativity, innovation, hope – 122 votes
▪ Progressive and impressive – 78 votes
▪ A community with appeal – 62 votes